He’s one of a kind
Rushie had been at the non-striking end leaning on his bat watching carnage unfold while gliding to a casual century.
On making his observation he met the young player halfway to the wicket and quipped in all seriousness: “I dunno about you, but I always like to hit the first one for four!”
I can’t remember who the tearaway bowler was, but simple survival seemed much more appropriate at the time. Don was simply unflappable. It’s a moment in cricket I will never forget.
It was one of many unforgettable moments involving this fascinating and lovable character.
On another occasion, Rushie, meandering off the field after smashing another ton while of course sporting his trademark one glove and floppy hat, inquired to the scorers about his tally at the end of his innings.
“Was it 175?” he asked. “No Don, it was 178,” came the reply.
“Rubbish, give me a look at the book,” he said again.
It was the first time he had inquired about his score during his monumental innings and despite the size of his knock had been keeping count in his head until the end. The scorers had it wrong.
The acknowledgement of Rushie someone special started early for me.
As a primary-school youngster I attended a cricket match at Horsham City Oval with next-door neighbour and Don’s nephew Grant Mcrae.
While playing in the shade of the reserve’s canteen, far away from the cricket action, a mighty crash on the building’s tin roof suddenly interrupted our game.
With a proud giggle and grin Grant immediately explained, ‘that’s just Rushie hitting another six’.
As part of a personality trademark, as it wasn’t all about cricket, and Don, apart from his great sporting achievements, regularly took people by surprise with random ‘Rushie moments’.
One day, ambling into training at Horsham Tech School nets still in his work clothes after a day at his shoe-store business, Rushie picked up a ball and queued up with other bowlers in the nets.
Just as he was about to bowl, he paused, gathered everyone’s attention and with a nod in a sideways direction asked, “what do you reckon he’s thinking about fellahs?”
Confusion! “Who, Rushie?” someone finally asked. “That old bloke over there – he would have seen a fair bit in his time,” he responded.
Amid puzzled looks, there was eventually the revelation that Don was talking about a lone galah that had perched on a faraway fence, holding its ground as feathers rustled in the breeze.
After an awkward pause and a sigh from Rushie, it was back to the cricket where he predictably, and despite being in his work clobber, sent down another unplayable off-spinner.
Again, in another Rushie moment, when Don had reached super-veteran status and had limited his fielding duties to slips, he sported a beaming new pair of white sandshoes.
The shoes appeared a little too large and upon a query as such, Don revealed he had the shoes in his shop for many years and his old pair had worn out. With a grin he qualified a decision to wear shoes that didn’t fit by saying the bigger they were the more they helped old blokes in the field. Sure enough, a heavy edge from the bat came flying through and Don, instead of catching the ball, poked out one of his giant white sandshoe-laden feet and kicked it up. The ball hadn’t carried far enough to be a catch but amid laughter and ‘told you so’ exclamations, Don had prevented four runs.
People who played cricket with and against Don Rush have their own stories, many of them just as varied and unusual.
He attracted adoration from his teammates and friends and frustration and enormous respect from his opponents.
He was a rare type of sportsman, let alone cricketer, being more than handy with a set of golf clubs, and we’ll never know where his talent might have taken him as a footballer.
Rest in peace Rushie, you were one of a kind.